PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine’s lucrative baby eel industry will likely face tighter controls this year designed to thwart poaching.

Baby eels, called elvers, are an important part of the worldwide supply chain for Japanese food. Maine fishermen harvest them from rivers and streams every spring, and they are typically worth more than $1,000 per pound. No other U.S. state has a significant elver fishery.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources is looking to add a requirement that elver exporters in the state must notify the Maine Marine Patrol 48 hours before preparing to pack and ship the eels. State officers would oversee the packing and shipping of the wriggling critters.

Elver fishing season begins on March 22.